Singapore needs help

October 10, 2005
Singapore Democrats

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Dear fellow Singaporeans,

First and foremost, I sincerely like to congratulate Dr Chee and SDP on launching of the SDP radio. I wish Dr Chee and his team every success. I am a middle-class local Singaporean who lives among the society that gets to read a little of all sides of topical issues. Visiting SDP website is an eye-opener for me, a remedy to my myopic mindset.

I have reservations about whether the changing of Marina Bay’s skyline and the advent of two mega integrated-resorts with gambling dens and the majestic gardens at its precincts would make the island a vibrant city and actually benefit the locals.

You know, a classic trip to Genting is $69 for three days (as advertised). Transported by VIP coach to destination with resort accommodation and free buffet breakfast. On top of this, the high altitude breathtaking scenery and a cool outdoor ambience is to die for. Best of all, you enter the casino free of charge. It is truly an experience.

A dream-integrated resort at the Marina Bay and Sentosa to offer Singaporeans a similar experience is a pipedream. Scarcity of gardens and parks in the neighborhood would probably drive the locals away.

Those innocuous gamblers will become inveterate punters, and the inveterate gamblers would die of paupers as a consequence. As the gambling dens’ doors gradually open even bigger to the locals, the problem grows bigger. Actresses and actors may have to perform heart-wrenching stunts to raise funds for the “Gambler-Rehabilitation Fund”

When your businesses are fettered with a high operational costs or when your job pays a pittance, what you do when they talk about a good-service culture? Needless to say, when the bottom line is blissful, not only you see GST(greet, smile, thank you) but also HPGC (half profits go to charity) in line to promote a charity lifestyle that just comes in vogue.

In the euphoria of accelerating the tourist industry and hope the ripple effect of the tourist dollar would spill all over the island, especially the HDB’s areas, however, is a mystery. The Thais, the Japanese and the Australians, the way they greet jet setters is hereditary. Each of these countries though has a cosmopolitan population but one official language is used unlike Singapore, where many languages are spoken. People say that Singaporean-brand English is a laughing stock and those who try to fake the American accent sounds terribly strange.

Those Singaporeans in their 40’s and 50’s finding hard to seek employment lies not only the factor of working skill but also the employers are given options to choose. Who will you choose for a job you offer that can save you money if you are able to take in young foreign talent who are willing live off cheap salary and long hours of work? The root of structural employment may stem from not using the “Singaporean-First scheme”. When you make enquiry about your ridiculous estimated PUB bills, they tell you shortage of manpower is the reason why they could not take actual readings every month, but ironically why we have many locals unemployed and are they difficult to be trained to read meters?

On education, my son recently told me that better students are herded into one class teeming with foreign students. The ice-cream seller outside the school’s precinct was telling me that street-gangsters are brewing in the neighborhood secondary schools. This has frantically rendered me to spend quality time with my son and hopefully he could enroll into a branded school but then again, I heard that a certain quota is given to the local students. No wonder Vocational Institute, now glorified as ITE college becomes a household name. Should the aim of the world-class education be only to turn out the kind of “product” the economy wants, then the whole educational system is sad story. What percentage of the locals will make it to the better universities is anybody’s guess?

On the use fo our CPF funds, my friend is plagued with health challenges and living on the wife’s wage. He has been appealing to various authorities to let her wife’s provident funds be transferred to the CPF account in full amount because the CPF board pegs a certain amount for voluntary contributions to prevent money laundering, etc. The family currently needs money to pay mortgage and loan through the CPF account, and they are not asking for any welfare or charity from the government but just to allow the funds to flow through the CPF account so that they can make good the money to finance the shelter over their heads. The appeal draws a blank despite 2 years of painstaking efforts.

This friend of mine used to be a confident, courageous, and a compassionate Singaporean. During our NS days in the late 70’s, he was a good sergeant, a good commander to the men, and a patriot to Singapore who was willing to sacrifice without regret for his country. He soaked or stood in the rain more than anyone else from time to time during any military exercise and carried out orders obediently for his fellow men. Now, he cannot get his CPF funds to help himself. Are we calling ourselves a compassionate lot when our fellow Singaporean is suffering silently while we went out on a limb to offer help to others far afield?

As for NS, I think we should abolish it. Many foreigners who come here for a purpose and become new Singaporeans, continue to enjoy the privileges as Singaporeans without conscription. Then what are we if citizenship so sacred to us becomes a small value? Many of my generation have never received even a letter of appreciation to at least saying “thank you” after serving the country on an average of $160 per month for the laborious two and half years not to mention the nine high-key reservist trainings and grueling IPPT tests and mobilisation exercises. Curtailing the training programme makes not much of a difference to the younger generation.

On the economic front, I believe many middle-class Singaporeans are facing real difficulties. This class of people is a sandwiched generation and their voices are never heard. And if we really want to help the poor who can ill-afford a house, sell them flats at the construction cost. It seems that the minimum-wage scheme is the vital answer.

Aristotle said that the common people know very little, but they possess a certain common sense. They may not have the intelligence to think out policies themselves, but they can judge the success or failure of policies. Life is more than erecting tall buildings, constructing futuristic viaducts, digging underground driveways and railways. In fact, these are incipient signs of population explosion on the small island portending more serious problems ahead of us.

My relatives, friends and I can see the present happenings and in a bid to save the island, we will make a rationale choice at the polls during the next general election. We will pray for divine victory.

LE